Article published in Dartmouth News on April 10, 2018 by Hannah Silverstein:
Michelle Warren, a professor of comparative literature, Sienna Craig, an associate professor of anthropology, and choreographer John Heginbotham, a lecturer in theater and director of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, have been awarded fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, joining a cohort of 175 top scholars and artists selected from nearly 3,000 applicants.
“I see the Guggenheim as a recognition of deeply creative scholarship. For me personally, it validates forms of writing and approaches to anthropology that I’ve been working toward my entire career,” says Sienna Craig.
Craig will use the fellowship to complete a book, The Ends of Kinship: Care and Belonging between Nepal and New York City, 1998-2018. This work focuses on the Himalayan region in Nepal where she has worked for the past 20 years.
“Told in relation to one small place on the global map, this project speaks to some of the most vexing and poignant issues of our times—immigration, identity, belonging, and the transformation of culture,” says Craig. “The book explores what it means for people to care for each other and steward a remote homeland across time and space, and to confront distinct forms of happiness and suffering through migration.”
During this period, she explains, two-thirds of the community’s young adults have left their villages, driven both by education and employment opportunities elsewhere. Many have settled in New York. Craig has maintained her connections to people in both locations. Her book combines traditional ethnography and short stories.
Why blend anthropology and fiction? “Sometimes it takes imagination and the creation of worlds to most clearly see social truths that emerge through long-term ethnographic practice,” she says. “Likewise, the empiricism of ethnography lends a different kind of credibility and connection to discussions of what it means to be human. As a scholar-teacher, I feel that it’s useful to put these forms of storytelling into dialogue with each other.”
Craig hopes that this book will make a scholarly impact and engage students. “But my driving motivation is to write a book that will be meaningful to the generation of young people who are growing up in New York or Kathmandu who have a connection to this part of the Himalaya, but who might not see all the different sides of the picture that, over this 20-year period, I’ve been able to begin to see,” Craig says.
Jay Hull, associate dean for the social sciences, says Craig’s project “involves the kind of impactful scholarship for which Dartmouth is known, and it is gratifying to see it be acknowledged in this way. Sienna Craig being named a Guggenheim Fellow is both exciting and well-deserved.”
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